Navigating the Offshore Wind and Green Hydrogen Nexus 

The world's energy landscape is rapidly transforming, with offshore wind emerging as the fastest-growing renewable energy source. As estimates suggest a projected growth from 60 GW in 2022 to a staggering 380 GW by 2032, it becomes essential to explore the potential of this renewable powerhouse.

What amplifies this opportunity is the possibility of integrating it with green hydrogen production, creating an enviable energy duo. Penspen’s Nigel Curson discussed this exciting landscape in an article for Energy Global.

Understanding the Offshore Wind Phenomenon

The global focus on environmental sustainability and favourable technology costs have bolstered the offshore wind sector. Such tailwinds are steering the sector towards a potential valuation of US$1 trillion in the coming two decades. This market potential has ignited discussions among stakeholders about repurposing existing oil and gas assets for wind energy or contemplating the construction of new infrastructure.

With the Offshore Wind Industry Council highlighting the potential to generate up to 1000 GW in the UK alone, with a peak UK demand of around 60 GW, there’s a compelling case for expanding the offshore wind industry, not just for meeting local electricity needs but for the promising domain of green hydrogen production and export.

Green Hydrogen: The New Energy Beacon

As countries globally warm up to the idea of a hydrogen-based energy economy, offshore wind stands at the forefront in the UK due to its cost competitiveness, load factor, land use and scalability compared with solar. The declining costs of onshore wind and the impressive 67% reduction in offshore wind's cost of electricity over recent years further underscore this argument.

Given the anticipated demand surge for hydrogen, it’s predicted that by 2050, hydrogen technologies could command revenues exceeding US$2.5 trillion annually, employing over 30 million individuals. Particularly in the UK, the forecasted demand for hydrogen could rival the nation's current electricity consumption.

The environmental credentials of green hydrogen, particularly its carbon-neutral status achieved through offshore wind-driven electrolysis, make it a strategic component in our pursuit of net-zero carbon objectives.

Reuse or Construct Anew: The Infrastructure Debate

The intersection of burgeoning demand for offshore wind and green hydrogen presents a multidimensional challenge. Decisions abound—from repurposing redundant oil and gas assets for green hydrogen production to evaluating the economic benefits of deferring asset abandonment. Equally crucial is ensuring asset safety, maintenance costs, and capacity considerations.

Navigating the complexities of offshore green hydrogen production necessitates collaboration. Key considerations include electrification requisites, seawater desalination, hydrogen processing, static and rotating equipment needs, and evaluating the condition of existing pipelines.

Given these intricacies, it becomes paramount for asset owners to engage with partners boasting expertise in hydrogen-related projects. Having a well-versed partner can facilitate seamless transitions from design nuances to regulatory support.

Case in Point: Uniper UK's Strategic Exploration

Exemplifying this collaborative approach, Uniper UK Ltd teamed up with Penspen for an exhaustive assessment of their existing onshore assets. Through their comprehensive study spanning various technical and regulatory facets, they sought to determine the feasibility of re-purposing their infrastructure for blended hydrogen with natural gas and 100% hydrogen.

Penspen's deliverables, including a hydrogen feasibility technical report and recommendations highlighting risks and opportunities, showcased the need for rigorous evaluations before transitioning to ensure asset readiness for hydrogen.

Ultimately, the synergy between offshore wind and green hydrogen paints a promising picture for the future of renewable energy. However, the road ahead demands informed decisions about repurposing existing infrastructure or innovating afresh. Penspen stands at this crossroads, committed to assisting stakeholders in embracing this green future, driving monumental change toward a sustainable energy landscape.